Photo: Courtesy of Sochaux
The whirlwind of offseason midfield signings came to a close on Thursday with announcements from the Union and Sochaux that French midfielder Vincent Nogueira had signed a deal to join the club.
Nogueira will remain in France for Sochaux’s game against Nantes on Saturday so that he can say farewell to the fans before joining the Union in Florida for the preseason.
According to MLS Transfers, a “very reliable source” says the Union played hardball to lower Sochax’s asking price for Nogueira from $2 million to $200,000. The report also says, “The Union will owe Sochaux an extra $150k if they get relegated from Ligue 1 at the end of May 2014 AND will have the first rights back to Nogueira if they get promoted to Ligue 1 and the player wants to go back to France.”
How does John Hackworth see the Union’s new midfield being deployed? The Union coach explained, “We’re looking at it as a three-man midfield. Maidana was playing as a No. 10 in Argentina, but he can also play as a left winger. [Edu] and Nogueira are both traditional No. 8s – box-to-box guys. Nogueira is very much a possession-oriented guy who does a tremendous amount of work. And then you’ve got Brian Carroll, who in theory should be doing the work behind those guys, holding down the fort and providing the service into those two.”
Cristian Maidana will arrive in Philly today.
In a review of recent player moves involving US internationals at Goal.com, Ives Galarcep says of Maurice Edu joining the Union, “You can make the argument that he might have been better off grabbing one of the other European options he had, such as taking loan moves to Spain or France, but if Kyle Beckerman is his top competition for a World Cup place, what better place to measure yourself against Beckerman than in the league he plays in?”
There has been some speculation out there among fans about whether Edu could be named captain. Edu says, “Brian Carroll is the captain and one of the most professional guys I know. He’s a well-respected guy, a great leader and works his socks off every game. It would be nice if I started next to him in the midfield and the two of us can help dictate play a little bit.”
Conor Casey says, “I feel great,” and that he is eager to reach the postseason. “This is a new start and we’re excited to be back. The work starts now. The guys here are working very hard and the club made a number of changes. I’m personally excited. I want to be in the postseason. It’s a long season and we start working on it now.”
At the Delco Times, Matthew De George reports that Pedro Ribeiro has “exceeded expectations” so far in training. De George reports, “Hackworth and company…envision him as a central attacker, tucked behind the strikers and able to facilitate the attack in a way none of the Union’s midfielders could last season.”
While much has been made of Ribeiro’s size — 6-4, 208-pounds — Hackworth says he wants more than that. “You have to have that (physical) component, but it’s also a fine line because me personally, I want guys who can play. So I don’t just want the big guys that are the ball-winners. I need the guys who are ball-winners and can roll a ball into a very tight window. And that’s what we’re asking of those guys.”
Ribeiro has those ball skills. “I’ve always tried to have the ball in my feet since I was 2, 3 years old,” the native of Belo Horizonte says. “When I was at home, my mom would go crazy because I would break stuff inside the house. I was just literally kicking the ball around all day, and that’s something that helps. A lot of Brazilian kids do that; we live with the ball in our feet.”
De George also reports that Zach Pfeffer has “been one of the more impressive performers of the first week of Union camp at YSC Sports.”
Pfeffer, who recently returned from a year-long stint with Hoffenheim youth academy, says, “The expectation is that I’m coming in and showing them everything I’ve learned, and hopefully that’s going to translate to minutes on the field.”
Zac MacMath says that he was surprised when the Union selected Andre Blake in the SuperDraft but that the competition between the two will be a good thing. “I think I was a little bit surprised, and obviously I understand why they picked him,” MacMath told the Inquirer. “He is a very good goalkeeper with a lot of potential and someone who is going to push me, and that is the whole point of drafting him…Any time there is competition it pushes people to be better, and obviously I want to go out and have the best year I can have and kind of prove to myself I am the goalkeeper I think I am.”
Blake says of MacMath, “He’s been great to me. We continue to push each other, and hopefully we both get better.”
Brendan Burke tells Philly Soccer News about his decision to leave the Union, “It was a hard decision to make. My relationship with John (Hackworth) and the staff could not be better.” The report says, “Burke is speaking to several clubs and universities in the Boston area, and hopes to have a new position nailed down soon.”
Amobi Okugo is hosting Media FC’s FIFA14 tournament on Saturday at 2 pm. You can sign up here for only $5 but you should act fast because the field is open to only 16 participants.
In ex-Union players news, Kai Herdling has signed a two-year contract extension with Hoffenheim.
Freddy Adu is in England training with Championship side Blackpool. The Daily Mail reports, “It is understood that the 24-year-old attacking midfielder is a friend of Blackpool’s caretaker boss Barry Ferguson, and there is little chance of him actually playing for the Championship club even if they could secure a work permit.”
MLSsoccer.com says there has been “mild interest from top-flight teams” in Adu from teams in Turkey.
The Harrisburg City Islanders released their 2014 schedule on Thursday and will start the season on the road on April 5 against the Wilmington Hammerheads before their home opener on April 19 against the Dayton Dutch Lions. The schedule includes two interleague friendlies, away to Montreal Impact on June 20 and at home against the New York Red Bulls on Aug. 6. They host new USL PRO side LA Galaxy II on July 30. They finish the season on Sept. 6 against Charlotte. Click here for a PDF of the schedule.
- Kansas City have signed right back Chance Myers to a new contract.
- LA have signed Swedish midfielder Stefan Ishizaki.
- Sporting Club de Portugal have exercised the option to purchase former Seattle forward Freddy Montero, officially clearing him from the Sounders’ books and so freeing up cap space. Montero’s six-year deal reportedly contains a $81 million release clause.
FC Dallas technical director Fernando Clavijo says he expects more US internationals to soon return to MLS. “The message from MLS has been loud and clear: They want to have everybody back into the United States prior to the World Cup, so I know that more players are coming.”
Despite what has so far been a quiet offseason in terms of acquisitions, Montreal Impact sporting director Nick De Santis believes the team can still augment its roster before the start of the season. “I’m confident we can get to a certain point with one or two players.” Gone from Montreal’s roster are Alessandro Nesta, Davy Arnaud, Andrea Pisanu and Daniele Paponi.
San Jose, who are celebrating their 40th anniversary this year, have unveiled their new logo and first and second kits. The new ‘Earth”-less logo is certainly an improvement over the previous one, even if it isn’t particularly exciting. Can’t say I’m a fan of the first kit, although the all-red second kit’s connection to San Jose’s NASL days is nice. Message to Earthquakes president David Kaval: the NASL was not, contrary to what he may say, “a time when American soccer was really in its earliest era.” Not even close.
Former Union goalkeeper Brad Knighton is competing for the starting job at his new club New England.
ProSoccerTalk has a Q&A with Orlando’s newly appointed vice president of soccer operations, Paul McDonough.
Former New York Red Bull and MLS smack talker Juninho has retired from the game.
Lebron James, rumored to be a part of David Beckham’s Miami MLS franchise investment group, says, “I think it could be great (soccer in Miami). We’ll see what happens. I think Miami is a great place for soccer. There’s so many great athletes that come from South Florida, Florida in general, and you know, the lower coast. Hopefully we can make it really good.”
ESPNW looks at the relationship between USWNT teammates and sisters Kristie and Samantha Mewis.
On Saturday, the USMNT concludes its January Camp with a friendly at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., against South Korea (5 pm: ESPN2, UniMás, Watch ESPN). US Soccer will be providing streaming Live Match Access coverage of the USMNT on the homepage of the federation website today and Saturday. Coverage will include Jurgen Klinsmann’s pregame press conference, “mixed zone footage and interviews,” and footage from training.
US Soccer announced on Thursday that the game had sold out. Look for our preview later today.
Soccer America says the USMNT “has been working on a few nuances” in preparation for Saturday’s game.
At the LA Times, Kevin Baxter writes that Landon Donovan appears to be a lock for the US World Cup team but wonders what his role will be.
Donovan says, “The goal is to make the team. I’m not in a place in my life now where I need to have this crazy burning desire to start and score and do everything. I want the team to do well, and I want the team to succeed and I want to be a part of it, of course. We all have ego, we all get enjoyment out of doing those things. But I want to help this team do well, and I want to help U.S. soccer make another big step.”
At ESPN, Roger Bennett has a very good read on why US players aren’t taken seriously in Europe.
Clint Dempsey has been named to the 2014 class of the Southern Conference Hall of Fame. Dempsey played at Furman for three seasons before turning pro.
On US Soccer and minivans. It’s deeper than you might think.
Check out the latest Footy on the Telly listings for the week’s upcoming live games on TV, online, and on satellite radio.
It’s transfer deadline day in Europe. The Guardian can help you keep up to date.
The Press Association reports, “Racing Santander’s Copa del Rey match with Real Sociedad was suspended on Thursday evening after the home players refused to play, having not been paid for several months.
The AP reports, “World football’s governing body has given Qatar two weeks to explain how welfare and living conditions for workers building 2022 World Cup projects are improving.” Or else what?